This morning I felt horrid. I emailed my husband to let him know I’d need his help with the kids and dinner: “I’m sock. Can I have a sick day please?” He seemed to get a kick out of this. :)
Hmm… Apparently I’m a sock today. :) After some strong coffee and determination I’m at least sitting instead of laying on the couch and my laptop found me. This got me to thinking about what a challenge it can be to take a “sick day” when you work from home. So thought it’d make a good blog post. Please forgive any typos, since I am sock, after all.
There seem to be four reasons it’s challenging to take a sick day when we work from home:
- What do you mean I’m NOT superwoman? (Giving ourselves permission to take a sick day is not always easy.)
- No, please don’t paint your sister purple! The cat doesn’t want it’s nails polished, honey. (Someone’s got to watch those little munchkins… for their own safety, the safety of the pets, and so you get that rental deposit returned.)
- Missed deadlines and unhappy clients. (Never a good thing.)
- No work = no money! (Products and services gotta get done!)
So let’s tackle these one at a time.
I’m not superwoman. I’d love to be. Wouldn’t you? It can be really tough to step back and realize that our health really matters and we’ve got to take care of ourselves for ourselves and so that we can care for the others we love.
If that’s not enough to make you put your feet up at least for a little while, then consider that it’s going to take you twice as long (or longer) to do anything while you feel like your head is floating and exploding at the same time. Fuzzy brain does not equal productivity.
Worried about losing a client or customer? If you deliver an article that makes no sense, or a forget a step in your product that makes it fall apart on use, that’s going to be worse than if you’d take a day or half a day off.
Take a day or two off from your pursuit of superwoman. You can try again when you’re feeling better.
Child Care / Schooling:
If you work at home and have small children or homeschool, then you’ve got the responsibility of caring for them, sick or not. And if you homeschool, there’s that, too. Some ideas/thoughts that may work or be helpful for you:
- It’s okay to miss one day of school. Your kids will likely be okay with it if you give them the day off. If you’re anything like most home schoolers I know, you probably often do school on Saturdays or get through two days worth of assignments in one day anyway. So don’t sweat it.
- If your kids are older, put the oldest in charge of making sure everyone gets their assignments completed and offer something special as a thank you for accepting the responsibility.
- Try an alternative school plan for the day. My kids have somehow retained more science from watching Mythbusters and the rest of the Discovery channel line up than most of the lessons we cover. Just create simple assignments around an educational video or put on the History, Science, or Discovery channel.
- Keep a sick day box of crafts, games, videos and projects your kids can safely complete on their own for the days when you’re sick or totally overwhelmed. Keep in mind that anything involving glitter, scissors or glue may not be the wisest choice for this box.
- Recruit help. If you’re at that point where you are so sick that even keeping your eyes open is nearly impossible and the cold medication is only making that tougher, it’s okay to call in reinforcements — a friend, grandparent or your spouse may be able to take over for the day.
Work Projects with Deadlines:
If you work in a business that requires you to meet specific deadlines, the best thing to do is finish work early… but, that’s not helpful if you’re already up against a deadline and too sick to work.
The most important thing to do is communicate with your client as soon as possible about the situation. If you’re really sick enough that you can’t do it, have someone else send out an email or make a quick phone call (your virtual assistant, a friend, or other colleague could step in to help you). Most of the time the client will understand and be willing to work with you.
If the deadline is absolutely inflexible, either have an assistant or colleague step in to get the project finished, or help guide your client to someone who can help them get it completed. This means you need to have a list of connections before you get sick. It’s a great reason to be on “good terms” with your competition instead of being hyper-competitive–you may need their help one day.
Bringing in the Cash:
For many of us working from home, no work = no money because we’re trading our hours or products for cash, so it’s really tough to accept that we’ve got to take a day off. If that’s where you find yourself, there are three things you need to do.
- Get Help from an Assistant or Team: Get setup with a virtual assistant or other helpers and then they’ll be there when you need them. They can take over your email or ship products for you as needed. If you aren’t quite ready for a VA yet, do some research anyway and find several you’re interested in working with and know how to contact them when you do need them.
- Create Multiple Income Streams: Don’t rely only on providing your services or products to bring in money. Create an information product (ebook, audio, pattern, etc). If you have an information product, and have it setup so sales/delivery are automated, you can still be making money even when you’re out sick.
- Keep a Realistic Schedule: Don’t pack your schedule so full that one day off would throw it into disarray. Leave time in every week for unexpected problems. If problems don’t pop up, then you’ve got some time to relax, work on something you want, or say yes to an unexpected opportunity.
Take smart steps to be ready before you get sick, and then you can relax on the couch with your cup of noodle soup, knowing that your kids are happy and occupied, your assistant is helping your clients or that you’ve contacted them and they understand the delay, your business is still running and your products are available for sale, and you’ll survive to try the superwoman thing another day.